Collector - January 2018 - 40
How call blocking and labeling tools are negatively affecting the debt collection industry-and what you can do.
By Anne Rosso May
he Federal Communications
Commission's regulation of
"robocalls" continues to be one
of the most closely watched issues in
the credit and collection industry today.
After receiving the green light from
the FCC, carriers and other providers
began offering consumers various
robocall blocking tools, which are having
devastating affects on legitimate business'
right-party contact rates.
At ACA International's Fall Forum &
Expo, Michele Shuster, partner at Mac
Murray & Shuster LLP and general counsel
for the Professional Association of Customer
Engagement (PACE), along with Karl Koster,
chief IP and regulatory counsel for Noble
Systems Corporation, presented their
expert analysis on the improper blocking
and labeling of legitimate calls. They
explored the development of this issue,
how it's affecting legitimate businesses and
what's being considered to fix the problem.
To thwart or identify fraudulent
robocalls, consumers can use two types of
tools. Call blocking tools prevent the call
from being completed. Call labeling tools
apply a tag for consumers to read on their
caller ID or smartphone when the call is
connected-for example: "telemarketer"
or "suspected scam"-and consumers can
decide if they will accept the call, send it
to voicemail, block it or even potentially
mark as a scam.
The FCC's Telephone Consumer
Protection Act Ruling and Order, released
in July 2015, allowed the use of consumerinitiated call blocking tools. These can be
third-party devices or apps consumers
purchase themselves or network-level
services they request from their carrier or
are built into their phone.
Shuster said PACE members, many of
which are contact centers, started seeing
significant declines in their contact rates
starting in March and April 2017, on average
by 30 percent.
If your calls are being blocked, you
probably won't immediately know what's
happening. Is the line busy, did the call drop
or was it blocked?
"They need to return an error code that
says that the call has been blocked," Koster
said. "You need to know right way if you
need to talk to the carrier to mitigate this. At
the moment, we don't have a mechanism to
do this, and without that mechanism, we're
left in the lurch."
The FCC has not addressed call labeling,
but it is currently just as pressing of an issue
that has started happening through certain
carriers whether or not the consumer has
directly requested the service.
Koster noted that the crowd-sourced
approach to third-party call labeling is
particularly threatening to legitimate businesses.
"From the experience we've had with
this, it can happen when as few as 12